Charlie (5) had spent the better part of the afternoon digging in junk drawers and sofa cushions for change.
Every time he found some coins, we practiced counting the money together. Eventually, he had collected $3.47.
“How many things can I get from the dollar bin with this?” he asked.
“Three,” I told him. “I will take you to Target tonight, just you and me.”
We hugged, I melted.
Fast-forward to Target.
Choices, choices. He made his selections and we went to the counter to pay.
The lady behind us at the check out had some things on the conveyor belt that rolled up to where we were standing across from the clerk who had just scanned our items. It was time to pay.
Charlie was DELIGHTED to exchange coins for his dollar-bin goods. And the lady behind us, sucked in by Charlie’s gravitational charm, was more than happy to wait and watch while he performed the transaction.
Before I knew what he was doing, Charlie opened his wallet and dumped three dollars and forty-seven cents-worth of change onto the conveyor belt in front of the clerk.
To make room, the clerk moved the other lady’s items back, which started the conveyor belt. In slow motion, three adults and a stunned Charlie watched helplessly as his coins fell down into the bowels of the conveyor system, clanking into a slot machine that would pay no winnings.
Charlie hugged my leg and wouldn’t look at me. The lady behind us said, “That makes me want to cry.”
I fished a five-dollar bill out of my purse and gave it to Charlie who slowly took it and gave it to the apologetic clerk.
Then, the best thing ever happened. The clerk handed him a $1.72 in change, and he looked like he had just won the lottery.
“Mommy, I got change!” he said with a mixture of joy and excitement.
He put the money in his wallet, grabbed his bag of loot and we left. We walked hand-in-hand to the car and drove home. And all was right with the world according to Charlie.
Do your kids love coins and dollars and change from the store clerk, too?